Pardon the metaphor. Really. I mean golf of all things. I was married to a golfer; it gave me the shanks. Still, it’s hard not to note that you’re half way there at the ninth hole, unless you had a different plan, which makes the ninth hole the end of the game. I have a friend who’s looking to play 18 holes. He wants to get married. "We’re at the ninth hole," he said, "where you really need to decide whether you’re going to play through or call it a day." For some people, they say it takes a year before you really know. Others say it takes seconds, that you can tell immediately if this is a person you’d spend forever with. Who cares. It’s different for everyone. The point is, at a certain time you get to the place where you’ve got to decide. You weigh the data you’ve been given. And that’s what it is, the behavior you witness in someone: it’s DATA. You can choose to either pay close attention to the information you’re given (through their actions and words), or you can ignore it (put on blinders, turn your head, ignore red flags). But it’s given to you. How you process it determines your outcome.
How soon is too soon? I mean you need some time to actually collect the data. I’ve always said that you don’t know what someone is really like until the shit comes down. Some catastrophe, where the truest colors splash about. "Nah," he says, "I don’t need to wait for that. I’m already questioning things." And then I get the scoop.
They’ve been dating five months. He’s 40, almost 40, splits hairs, has been married once before, a lifetime ago. He owns a house on Long Island. He currently doesn’t have a job but has the means to still live comfortably while he searches for the right one. She’s a trial lawyer, still living at home with her parents, at 36. If I were a judgmental person, I’d say, "Dude, that’s weird." But me? Judgmental? Come now. She’s traditional and comes from a large family. She has no loans to pay off. She’s saving her money. She drives a Mercedes, but the lease is up. "She shops for sensible shoes," he adds, "you know, Steve Madden, so I know she’s not spoiled." Mmmkay. "But then the other day, she makes this comment. She says, ‘I need to marry a man who’ll buy me a Mercedes.’ So I told her, ‘I’m not that man.’" What the hell is that? he wants to know. I mean she doesn’t shop like a mad woman now, but is that just the side she shows him? What if it’s all a ruse, and once they marry, she’ll quit her job and have a gimmie attitude? The way some women fear The Dirty Eight, he fears this. He’s frightened her comment was a slip. "When should you pay attention to actions instead of words?" he wants to know. "Because she really doesn’t act spoiled or like she has a sense of entitlement, but then she smacks down that line about wanting a man who’ll buy her a Benz." To his question of "when to pay attention to actions instead of words," I respond, "Not now!" He’s worried. And he should be. No, not because she’s committed all the words to the song gold-digger to memory and has replaced the Destiny’s Child lyrics of "Independent woman" with "Daddy bought it" in lieu of "I’ve bought it." He should worry because they obviously don’t see eye to eye on what makes a partnership.
I believe some women think this way. I don’t want to say a lot of women or most women because really who cares how many women? But some women do. They saw their fathers as the breadwinners, and the expectation is there for that life to continue when she’s handed off from her father to her fiance (note how similar finance and fiance are?). As long as she establishes a career and lands herself a husband to support her spending habits, mommy and daddy are fine with footing her bag-cravings, gym membership, and nights out with the girls before she ties the knot. I don’t want to go there, actually. That’s not the point. The point is some women see their fathers buying their mothers cars, affording them a country club lifestyle, and they want the option of having that too. They want to keep their careers if they’re worth keeping, if they make them feel independent, confident, and happy. But they don’t want to have to keep them out of necessity. That’s what the man is for. That’s what they know. Is it archaic? Yes, but she’ll argue "traditional." It’s learned behavior, spoiled maybe, and I can see that the woman he’s thinking of teeing off with for another 9 holes knows the lesson plan by her pave-set heart.
Let me just say, as we become adults we gain a certain amount of proportion and perspective. We can clearly see the familial patterns we grew up with, and it’s up to us to sustain them or reject them. To continue the cycle or work on deprogramming yourself in an effort to make a new, seemingly better, start. It’s not always easy. Therapy works nicely sometimes, especially when the couple views their upbringing as "the right way." Even they know there is no right way, but they figure they turned out okay, so why not perpetuate it?
I’m not entirely innocent of this, either. Some of us have learned to feel love in money (not only in money–if anyone knows how loving my family is, they can attest to it). It’s what we know of security. We feel taken care of, that if we lose our jobs or way, there will be someone there to catch us, to loan us some interest-free money with little to no expectation of getting the money back. And maybe that’s what she’s looking for in her partner. I know we’re accustomed to thinking it’s wrong, judging it. Saying that’s not what a partnership is about. But really, who are we to say? Maybe she’ll meet a man who wants that role, to take financial responsibility for his family, the way he saw it done growing up. Maybe that makes him feel good and empowered. Maybe that’s the right fit. Maybe not. Maybe she really is just a gold-digger and can’t wait to marry so she can stop working and decorate their new life with her expensive taste. Or maybe she’s looking for someone who WANTS what she wants, wants a wife who stays home and decorates. You know, they do exist, and are all too happy to provide their wife with the lifestyle to which they’ve all grown accustomed. What do you think?